Warden High School blood drive sees one of its largest turnouts

May 13—WARDEN — Warden High School hosted a Vitalant blood drive April 30 in the blood donation organization's mobile bus center. Warden District Nurse Janna Benzel said the drive was possibly the district's biggest yet.

"We actually had one of our best turnouts for our blood drive and we ended up with a backup list as well," Benzel said. "So (Vitalant was) considering coming back and doing another one soon. We don't know if that'll happen yet, before the end of the school year. We had about 10 or 11 students on a backup list ... I believe what we totaled up for the end of the day was we had 26 donors."

Benzel said they were able to fit in several more donors after the originally scheduled timeslots were over. She said feedback from Vitalant was very positive.

"They thought it went really smoothly," she said. "So it was just pretty well organized. There was always a donor there ready to go, so I think they appreciated that; it made their day go by quickly and smoothly. And we were able to get 26 blood products, which is pretty incredible for a small community."

If the Warden School District is able to get a certain number of blood products donated at the drives hosted in 2024, Vitalant will provide a $1,200 grant to Warden High School for its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programs, Benzel said. The grant could be used for projects, activities, equipment, trips and more.

"This drive will be part of it. The next part of it will be in December; we're going to have a second drive and we need a total of 40 blood products donated to get the grant," Benzel said. "We went over our goal quite a bit this time, so I think we can definitely meet that goal or go over it in December."

Benzel said the majority of donors were Warden students.

"I want to say we probably had around six to eight adults," Benzel said. "We did have a few (donors who) passed out, but that's pretty normal. So they get a little extra time on the bus recovery and discharge ... We even had an adult pass out, so it can happen."

Not only were students the majority of donors during the event, but several Warden students were also involved in running the drive under Benzel's supervision.

"I'm just their mentor. So I oversee and they run the blood drive," she said. "It went really well. I had a student doing it for her senior project. She did a really good job, handled it, did all the check-in the whole day, moved people around as needed. She just took over and handled it all and then she had a senior kind of mentor her as well that day who had done it before and had done a couple of other drives. Together they did an incredible job.

Benzel elaborated on how the event went.

"I was really impressed with the community and the students actually willing to donate," she said. "We had so many students come up and want to donate and they went and got their permission slips filled out and came back and were ready to go. And the principal and the teachers allowing them the time to do that, that was really great."

In a May 1 announcement encouraging blood donations leading up to Mother's Day, Vitalant highlighted the story of Heather Hoffman, a blood donor who, when delivering twins, received more blood after childbirth than she had in her entire body, according to the statement.

"It's shocking to realize how much blood can be needed by just one person," Hoffman said in the announcement. "It will take me well over two years to give back just what I needed. It's important to me to give back so whoever else needs it will have it when the time comes."

Warden's blood drive was just one of many opportunities to donate in the region. Through May 23, Vitalant donors who opt into the organization's rewards program will have a chance at winning one of 83 $83 gift cards.

Slots are available at four Vitalant drives in Moses Lake through the end of May at Moses Lake High School and the Grant Transit Authority, one Vitalant drive at the Ephrata Recreation Center, and one drive through the American Red Cross at Othello Church of the Nazarene. To register for a specific date or time, visit vitalant.org or redcrossblood.org.

Gabriel Davis may be reached at gdavis@columbiabasinherald.com.